Auchentoshan: a Jekyll & Hyde story


With the benefit of hindsight that’s probably a bit of a harsh article title, considering neither of these whiskies were murderously violent nor devilishly deceptive. However when I first looked at the liquid contained within the beautifully wrapped samples I received, that was the first thing which came to mind. Well that, and an article title of ‘Auchentoshan: Chalk and Cheese’ didn’t sound as if it’d be too appealing to you, the reader. One bottle was filled with an angelically light gold coloured liquid, the other with a rich, dark syrupy liquid. The two really couldn’t have looked much different or, as I soon found out, tasted much different.

The first of the two whiskies I tasted was the new Valinch which is matured in first fill ex-bourbon casks. Limited to 2,000 cases, this souped-up cask strength version of the Auchentoshan Classic is named after the metal pipette used to draw samples straight from the cask. I then moved on to the 1979 Vintage which is limited to just 1,000 bottles. This dark, marauding liquid has spent over 32 years in first fill Oloroso sherry butts before being bottled at cask strength. Morrison Bowmore Master Blender Rachel Barrie promises that “this carefully crafted malt is one of the most intensely fruity Auchentoshans ever to be released. A cornucopia of rich dark fruits and deep spices, this beguiling expression is beautifully dry.” Let’s see if I agree.

Auchentoshan Valinch 2012
First fill ex-bourbon casks
Limited to 2,000 cases
57.2% ABV
£36.94 from here

Nose: Creamy vanilla, coconut and Victoria sponge cake to begin then green apples and a dash of fresh oak.

Palate: Peaches, white candy sticks and lemon bon bons. Then a slight pear skin bitterness for balance and a touch of chilli heat.

Finish: Lots of vanilla and light toffee fudge are balanced by some fresh woody notes.

Auchentoshan 1979
First fill Oloroso sherry butts
Limited to 1,000 bottles
50.5% ABV
£321.75 from here

Nose: I’m overwhelmed. Rich honey, treacle toffee, sultana cake, plums, cocoa powder, demerara sugar and polished wood all hit my nose one after another. I could nose this for weeks.

Palate: Very rich and smooth with berries – blueberry pie, raspberries and blackberries. Then figs in syrup, manuka honey and chocolate covered Brazil nuts.

Finish: Long, fruity and sweet with some dry oak.

Overall: Two very different Auchentoshans, and two whiskies to have either side of a nice meal. The Valinch is a perfect aperitif dram and the 1979 is something to go with or after dessert. The Valinch is slightly on the light side for my tastebuds but still a winner. However the star of the show today is definitely the 1979 vintage – the nose on this whisky in particular is stupendous.




  1. I could not agree more. The 1979 btw, just won Best Single Lowland Malt of the year from Whisky Advocate. A truly stunning dram.

  2. Wow, I’ve never heard of anyone recommending the Valinch as an “apéritif” dram? I might have agreed had you reviewed the Auchentoshan 12 or the Triplewood. Valinch is CS and I can’t imagine giving that to a guest on a empty stomach before a meal. Can you say: “Margaret why are your cheeks so red and why are you laying your head on the table?” ;)

    All kidding aside, both of these are fabulous bottlings from Auchentoshan and I would highly recommend the Valinch for those looking to spend a little and still get a great quality whisky, just beware it does pack a punch, maybe have a few small crackers or a bit of cheese first?

    I have the 1977 (32 year old) sherry matured and it to die for. I offer that to my friends who love the Auchies as a “special” dram to enjoy. By your description and a few others, I would say they are still doing that style right!

    Tongue in cheek but very respectfully yours,


  3. Very nice.

    The valinch is an amazing dram for its price, and i highly recommend it.

    As for the older one, i have yet to try it. for some reason the Auch PR guys do not like me ;)

  4. Mark – indeed, it’s certainly one of the best whiskies I’ve tried for a long time. That and the OP 40yo are my stand out whiskies from the past 12 months, cracking liquid.

    Whiskylassie – you’re quite right; the Valinch is such a light, fragrant dram that one sometimes forgets the punchy ABV. Perhaps to be had WITH a (hefty) starter rather than before…? I haven’t had the privilege of tasting the 1977, but if the 1979 is anything to go by then I’m sure that’s a brilliant dram too :)

    Gal – maybe the guys at customs realised what was on its way to you and confiscated it for ‘investigation’? ;)

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